Swedish hero Fredrik Lindgren sent Gothenburg’s Ullevi Stadium wild after winning his first ever FIM Speedway Grand Prix gold medal on Saturday night and declared “now I’m going to win some more.”
Fast Freddie topped the rostrum in the FIM Swedish SGP after passing world champion Greg Hancock on the first lap of the final. Aussie champion Chris Holder was third and wild card Thomas H Jonasson underlined his SGP qualification credentials by claiming fourth spot.
Lindgren’s victory was the perfect way to lay the ghost of Gothenburg 2008 to rest. He finished second to Rune Holta in the Ullevi Stadium that year, despite winning all of his heats and his semi-final.
The 26-year-old had had enough of being reminded of that near miss, so he was ecstatic to romp to the greatest triumph of his career to date.
He said: “I’ve heard people talk about what happened in 2008 a million times this weekend. I’m pretty sick of it.
“Everyone has been asking me all the time – when’s your time going to come? When are you going to win? So it feels great to finally do it in front of my home crowd in Gothenburg.
“I’m really happy and now people can stop asking me when I’m going to win my first Grand Prix.”
Asked whether he believed it was the first of many victories, he said: “I have to believe. Now I know I can do it. I know I can win, and I have to win some more.”
Lindgren had achieved three seconds, three thirds and two fourths from his previous eight SGP final appearances.
With the gold medal hinging on one race, producing a magical start and flawless four laps under intense pressure is far from easy, as Fast Freddie has discovered since he joined the Grand Prix elite in 2008.
Speaking after moving up to eighth in the overall standings, he said: “It feels really great to have been able to do it in the final when the pressure is on, and not just finish second or third.
“I was really happy with my start and I managed to get over Holder. He had been really fast all night. It meant I could beat him to the dirt line, get some momentum going and I got Greg with a good cutback on the third and fourth bend.
“On the final two laps, I got more and more concerned about whether I could hold on, but I just kept the throttle open and hoped I would be fast enough.”
Hancock may have left Gothenburg as the SGP series leader, but Lindgren took all the plaudits after turning around what was shaping up to be a night to forget.
He managed just two points from his opening two races, but a lightening fast victory in heat nine turned the tide.
A last place followed, but the Orebro-born man bagged second in heat 19 behind Hancock to steal into the semis on countback with seven points. He only pipped Polish star Jaroslaw Hampel into the last eight by virtue of his one race win.
“It can be such a small difference in the Grand Prix,” Lindgren said. “Even though I only sneaked in and had the last pick of gates, I was able to win from every gate position and that was really important.”
Runner-up Hancock has raced in all 148 SGP rounds staged since the competition replaced one-off World Finals. He has competed in 28 of those events on Swedish shale.
Despite living in the country during the European season, he is still waiting for his first Grand Prix victory in his adopted homeland.
But after starting the meeting with one point from two races, he was delighted to flip his fortunes upside down and claim the silver medal.
The Californian admits his young sons Wilbur and Bill played their part in Team Hancock’s turnaround too. He said: “We started off God-awful and that’s one of those things. My kids came into play tonight, though. I was sat there in between races thinking about one of their songs, which goes something along the lines of ‘keep trying, don’t give up.’
“I had to change bikes after my second race. The first bike just wasn’t doing it for me, and it was a good move. The second bike was much better and then things started to pick up.”
Holder is now fourth in the World Championship on 52 points – just six behind Hancock – and was delighted with his consistency as he emerges as a genuine title challenger in his third season as an SGP regular.
He said: “It’s so hard to get to the final, so I’m stoked to get on the rostrum. I’m happy for Freddie that he got a win in front of his home crowd – that was awesome. I’m stoked with the whole night and I had some good points.
“You’ve just got to get good points in every round and I’m so happy to get 17. Being third is pretty cool.”
Next up for world speedway’s finest is the FIM Dansk Metal Danish SGP at Copenhagen’s PARKEN Stadium on June 9.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Greg Hancock 58, 2 Nicki Pedersen 56, 3 Jason Crump 55, 4 Chris Holder 52, 5 Tomasz Gollob 49, 6 Jaroslaw Hampel 46, 7 Emil Sayfutdinov 37, 8 Fredrik Lindgren 37, 9 Antonio Lindback 31, 10 Andreas Jonsson 30, 11 Peter Ljung 21, 12 Kenneth Bjerre 20, 13 Hans Andersen 20, 14 Bjarne Pedersen 19, 15 Chris Harris 17, 16 Thomas H Jonasson 11, 17 Josef Franc 9, 18 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 7, 19 Jason Bunyan 1.
SWEDISH SGP SCORES: 1 Fredrik Lindgren 15, 2 Greg Hancock 15, 3 Chris Holder 17, 4 Thomas H Jonasson 11, 5 Nicki Pedersen 14, 6 Emil Sayfutdinov 12, 7 Jason Crump 11, 8 Andreas Jonsson 10, 9 Jaroslaw Hampel 7, 10 Peter Ljung 6, 11 Tomasz Gollob 6, 12 Antonio Lindback 5, 13 Kenneth Bjerre 5, 14 Bjarne Pedersen 4, 15 Chris Harris 3, 16 Hans Andersen 3, 17 Linus Sundstrom DNR, 18 Simon Gustafsson DNR.